Two years ago, the Shaker girls lacrosse team edged Guilderland 9-8 for its first Section II Class A title.
Guilderland got its revenge last year, as it defeated Shaker 15-8 in the finals.
The rubber match comes Wednesday, May 21, as the undefeated Blue Bison meet the defending champion Lady Dutch for the Sectional title at the University at Albany.
Shaker coach Kara DePaula-Lynch said the memory of last year’s final is what drove the Blue Bison to a 15-0 record this season. In that game, Guilderland jumped out to an 8-4 halftime lead and pulled away in part because Shaker didn’t handle adversity well, she said.
“I think last year’s game, as bad as it was, is the reason why we’re back here this year. We had to fix some things,” said DePaula-Lynch.
DePaula-Lynch said this year’s Shaker team doesn’t get down or panic if it’s trailing. A prime example was the Blue Bison’s regular season meeting against Guilderland April 16 at Siena College in which they rallied from a late two-goal deficit to edge the Lady Dutch 12-11 in overtime.
“They don’t fall apart when they get behind. They bond together through adversity,” said DePaula-Lynch.
The first Guilderland game was the last time Shaker stared into the jaws of defeat. Since then, the Blue Bison have won each of their games by at least eight goals, including their 15-6 Sectional semifinal win against Saratoga Springs Thursday, May 15, in Latham.
However, DePaula-Lynch was quick to point out that even in a nine-goal victory, Shaker had some issues against Saratoga.
“The game was a lot closer than we would have liked after the first 15 minutes,” said DePaula-Lynch. “It was a little nerve wracking, but it’s a great credit to our bench and our kids that we stayed focused.”
Shaker’s offense — and specifically Julia Lennon — has been piling on the goals this season. Lennon leads Section II with 83 goals entering Wednesday’s final, the last seven of which came in the semifinal victory over Saratoga. Sarah Cheney has contributed 37 goals and 31 assists this season, while Kailyn Hart has added 36 goals.
However, Guilderland’s offense has been equally efficient this season. The Lady Dutch also boast three players with 30 or more goals, led by Morgan Hardt (73).
DePaula-Lynch said the Guilderland player she’s most concerned about is midfielder Cara Quimby. The junior has scored at least three goals in each of the Lady Dutch’s last eight games, including a six-goal afternoon in Guilderland’s 18-8 semifinal win against Shenendehowa May 15.
“They’ve had Cara Quimby come alive again,” said DePaula-Lynch. “Something turned around for them, and we have to figure it out.”
Ultimately, DePaula-Lynch said she expects another tight game between Shaker and Guilderland when they meet Wednesday.
“We are determined to win,” said DePaula-Lynch. “This group of seniors deserves it, at least.”